What to Expect When You Visit the Dentist

Bring your HPSM ID and Medi-Cal BIC to Your Appointment.

Show both cards at the front desk. Fill out any paperwork you are asked to complete. The dental staff will bring you from the waiting room to the exam room when they are ready for you.

You Will Get a Dental Exam

As part of the exam, you may get x-rays so your dentist can see inside your teeth, gums and jawbone. Your dentist will also use a metal tool to probe your mouth for decay, cavities, gum recession and other dental problems. The dentist may ask about your dental hygiene habits, diet and if you have felt any pain in your mouth.

Your Teeth Will Be Cleaned

If you have not been to the dentist for a while, you may need a deep cleaning. This type of cleaning is more intensive than the usual cleaning and takes longer. To start to get your gums healthier, the dentist may only clean half your teeth during the first visit. This will help reduce the sensitivity your gums will experience while tartar build-up is removed. In that case, the dentist will schedule a second visit on another day to finish cleaning your teeth later.

At the start of the cleaning, a suction tube will be put inside your mouth near your cheek to prevent drooling. Either the dentist or a dental hygienist will clean your teeth. They will floss between your teeth, then use tools to carefully scrape plaque and tartar off of your teeth. If you feel pain, tell your dentist or hygienist. They will be extra-gentle in over-sensitive areas. They will also let you take a break if you want.

When the cleaning is done, you will rinse your mouth. Then the dental hygienist will polish your teeth with paste using an electric buffer. Finally, you will rinse again. Then your dental work is done for the day!

Your Dentist Will Tell You If You Need More Care

Your dentist will let you know if there are any problems with your teeth or gums that need to be fixed. If there are, they will explain the procedure you need and when to get it done.

Your dentist may also explain how to take care of your teeth. That may include instructions on how to brush and floss, as well as what foods to avoid. Plus, they may give you a free toothbrush along with sample-sized toothpaste and floss.

Your dentist will also tell you when to visit again. They may be able to schedule your next visit at the front desk.

Common Dental Procedures

In addition to cleaning, you may need other dental procedures if your teeth or gums are damaged. Here are some of the most common ones.

  • Fillings repair holes in teeth caused by cavities, decay and fractures
  • Fluoride varnish prevents tooth decay by strengthening the enamel
  • Crowns completely cover teeth that are more badly damaged
  • Root canals clean bacteria out of an infected tooth’s root
  • Dentures are used when most or all of the teeth have been taken out